First Look: 2011 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

The U.S.-spec Mitsubishi i-MiEV is considerably bigger than its Japanese counterpart, growing by nearly a foot in length (bringing overall length to 12 feet) and four inches in width to better fit the tastes of American consumers.

Predictably, the i-MiEV's bumper fascias have morphed in order to make the micro machine DOT-compliant. Up front, the i-MiEV receives a chunky front bumper, accented by a revised hood stamping with stronger character lines. Large turn signal indicators wrap into both the front and rear fenders, which have been flared to accommodate the wider track. The clear tail lamp lenses of the JDM i-MiEV have been replaced with red lenses, which are complemented by the addition of round red reflectors near the lower edge of the bumper.

Inside, Mitsubishi did more than simply convert the car to left-hand-drive. Designers were given some freedom to spruce up the cabin, adding a new upper dashboard, flush-mounted radio design, vertically arranged HVAC controls, and a striking two-tone color scheme. Although we'll reserve judgment until we step foot inside, the revisions do appear more upscale than JDM cabins.

Underneath the skin, the hardware is identical to i-MiEVs sold in Japan and Europe, meaning U.S.-bound cars will couple a 63-horsepower electric motor to the rear wheels, along with a lithium-ion battery pack. We hear, however, that the difference may lie primarily in calibration. Sources close to the automaker tell us both regenerative braking and throttle input have been revised for our market, likely to make the i-MiEV more at home on high-speed American highways.

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